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Press Release | June 1, 2023

Coast Guard returns 24 migrants to the Dominican Republic, following vessel interdiction in the Mona Passage

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon returned 24 of 29 migrants to the Dominican Republic Thursday, following the interdiction of an illegal voyage vessel in Mona Passage waters near Puerto Rico.

Four other migrants in this case, Alfredo Rodriguez-Moya, 23; Johan Jerber-Jaramillo, 22; Francisco Santos-Cedeño, 36; and Jean Enus Demosthene, 43; are facing federal prosecution at the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico.  They are being charged with violating Title 8 U.S.C. § 1325, attempted improper entry; Title 18 U.S.C. § 2237, failure to heave; and Title 18 U.S.C. § 111, assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees. 

Also in this case, Coast Guard crews medevac’d a pregnant woman who was experiencing contractions and transported her to a local hospital in Puerto Rico.  

The interdiction occurred Monday afternoon, after the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection multi-role enforcement aircraft detected a suspect vessel northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Donald Horsley to carry out the interdiction.  Following the pursuit and interdiction of a grossly overloaded 25-foot makeshift vessel, the Donald Horsley crew safely embarked 29 persons, 11 Dominican men, six- Dominican women, 10 Haitian men and two Haitian women.  Cutter Richard Dixon later rendezvoused with the cutter Donald Horsley and embarked the migrants who were later transferred at-sea to a Dominican Republic Navy vessel just off Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The three Dominicans and Haitian facing federal prosecution were transferred to Ramey Sector U.S. Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

“The Coast Guard alongside our federal and local partners in Puerto Rico is committed to saving lives and stopping maritime irregular migration events taking place aboard grossly overloaded and unseaworthy vessels,” said Capt. Jose E. Diaz, Sector San Juan commander. “Migrants and smugglers who display hostile and threatening behavior towards law enforcement officers during an interdiction are putting the lives of everyone at risk.  It is important they realize that they will face criminal charges for their actions.”

A court in the Dominican Republic has also issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Jerber-Jaramillo suspected of being involved in a murder.  If convicted the four defendants face up to 20 years of imprisonment, a fine up to $250,000, or both. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan H. Martin leads the prosecution. All defendants are presumed innocent until convicted by a court of law. 

The Coast Guard, along with Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast partners, maintains a continual presence with air, land, and sea assets in the Florida Straits, the Windward Passage, the Mona Passage and the Caribbean Sea, collaborating to protect safety of life at sea. With their combined multi-layered approach, they were able to interdict several unlawful, irregular maritime migration events over the past days.

Since Oct. 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023, the Coast Guard has carried out 46 illegal voyage interdictions in the Mona Passage and waters near Puerto Rico.  Interdicted during this period, are 1,473 non-U.S. citizens including 1,209 Dominicans, 242 Haitians, 13 Venezuelans, seven Kazakhs, one Albanian, one Colombian, and one other of unknown nationality.

Cutters Donald Horsley and Richard Dixon are 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG) unifies efforts between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Attorney's Office for the District of Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action.  CBIG’s common goal is securing the borders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands against illegal migrant and drug smuggling threats.